|From February 2010|
|From February 2010|
I've been very interested in looking at artists who are dealing with an overabundance of information, and those who are dealing with an economy of means. It's all been loosely tied together for me in this idea of the Baroque (which I plan to research). Deb Davidson referred me to an article in The New Yorker by Peter Schjeldhal on the Bronzino drawing exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum. In Then and Now, Bronzino at the Met, Schjeldhahl connects today's creative culture with Mannerism. He says, "As Mannerists toiled in the twilight of the Renaissance, so do we in relation to the modern age--the word "modern" having been torn from its roots to signify things that loom behind us. The cinquecento artists would be intrigued by one of our musical genres, the mashup: new songs cobbled from scraps of old songs. (It shares an arch intricacy with their most popular form, the madrigal.) The movie "Avatar" strikes me as Mannerist through and through, generating terrific sensations of originality from a hodgepodge of worn-thin narrative and pictorial tropes. Ours is a dissolving, clever culture of mix and match. We are ready for Bronzino."
Rather than send Bronzino into the "doghouse of art history" as Schjeldahl states other art critics have done throughout art history, and as early as in Bronzino's own lifetime (indeed, he calls Mannerism the "most commonly despised period in Western art history"), Schjeldahl lauds Bronzino's talents. He likens the positive aspects of mannerism to ribauldry, the burlesque -- and just plain old erudite fun. He cites "The Daily Show" and The Onion as examples of a common spirit of "taking glee in the absurdities of inescapable conditions".
The relevance of all art is judged not only in its own time, but from the times in which it is viewed. Schjeldhahl ends by saying, "It's unsettling to read such judgments, by smart men, on art that looks so good at present--as it does to a lively cohort of art historians who include the show's excellent curators...The old verdicts suggest a proactive condemnation--of our own era--which, for all we know, future generations may come to endorse. Meanwhile, we are doing the best we can in the twenty-first century, things being as they are; and anyone who wants our friendship had better be civil to Bronzino."
Food for my own thought. And so it may just be Mannerism, and not the Baroque, that has been nagging at me as something I'm feeling and seeing.